Old blackwater, keep on rolling
Fresh off recording a new studio album – which will be released on July 27th – MOFRO gets their southern-fried funk in gear at Ford Amphitheater tonight at 6:30, and then they play a late show at 8150 at 10 in Vail.The new album, “Lochloosa,” gives a nod to North Floridian backwoods of MOFRO’s roots.”I love it. It took the same process as ‘Blackwater,'” said John “JJ” Grey. “I wrote a bunch of songs Daryl (Hance) wrote a bunch of music, and then we get together, demo it, and give it to different people to play on it in the studio. It’s exactly how ‘Blackwater’ came about.”Robert Walter and Papa Mali added some different voices to MOFRO’s record.
“Sonically, we tried to get the fattest tones we could,” said Grey. “I guess it’s sort of a continuation of a conversation, so to speak.”MOFRO is deep into their summer tour, having hit festivals like the High Sierra Music Festival. Their music is strong and soulful, and there is a method to their jubilant performances.”We like to make a set take off at some point and try not to get back down again, once we get to that point,” said Grey. “Sometimes I’ll go see a show, and, if they come out of the gates with the loudest, rockin’-est song they’ve got, you never can get back over that again because of the excitement. And then the rest of the show feels sort of like it never matches up to that.”I like to start out a show halfway, and then drop down with some more soul stuff. And then once we hit a point that it’s gonna take off, just take off. It’s sort of like the way old soul songs used to be written, and the way church songs are. The way church is, by the end, the whole thing takes off. Movies are like that too. It’s what feels natural.”
Grey says he never has to work harder to make a set gain momentum. He says it’s effortless and natural.”To me, to be honest with you. The chill out stuff is more powerful a lot of times. But, a lot of people want to get their groove on and have fun – including myself,” said Grey. “So, it’s a different kind of power to play moving, hit-you-in-the-gut music. Something can be just as powerful later on if it’s a little more carefree, let-go, have-fun type of thing. It’s all part of what I think a show that I wanna do should be about. Rockin” from start to finish gets old fast.”Though MOFRO doesn’t host a signature music festival, yet, Grey had a couple of notions on what might be involved.”I’m torn between one down in Costa Rica on a surf safari. All my friends who love surfing just need an excuse to go there again because we used to go there all the time,” said Grey. “The other angle is like somewhere down there around Cross Creek, and I’d have to think about who all would play.”
MOFRO’s current lineup includes Grey on vocals, guitar harmonica and keys, Hance on guitar and dobro, Adam Scone on keys and George Sluppick on drums.”With Adam and George, the talking is like six miles wide now. To me it’s really huge. It’s just cool, you can just walk off and get out of the way, and it ain’t gonna do nothing except get even better,” said Grey. “They know the world of music that we – me and Daryl – come from. They play in that world, and there’s a difference between that and trying to recruit guys that play totally separate things, and that’s not really their first love. If you try to get them to play that kind of vision, that kind of sound, it’s just not the same as when guys are playing what they love.”MOFRO plays a free show at Ford Amphitheater tonight at 6:30 p.m. in Vail. They play a late show at 8150 at 10 p.m. in Vail.Andrew Harley can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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